Earlier this month we discussed inflammation and the effects that it can have on your physical health. When looking at the effects of inflammation, there’s another important aspect that doesn’t always get as much attention: inflammation and mood.
Inflammation, in its acute form, is helpful. It is the body’s way of fighting off an infection or illness. It is meant to be temporary. But when there’s no infection or no injury, and inflammation circulates at low levels in the body, we call this chronic inflammation. This is the type of inflammation we should work hard to avoid. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
But even if you think you’re in good physical health, there’s yet another reason to focus on cutting inflammation out of your life. A hefty amount of medical evidence suggests that inflammation is strongly linked to mental health as well.
And with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety at high levels, we should be diligent about protecting our emotional and mental well-being. Even if you don’t have a mental health disorder, inflammation could be at work in more subtle ways, affecting your mood, concentration, or overall emotional well-being.
What the research says
There’s a close relationship between inflammation and the brain. Experts have known for years that inflammation is a key factor in depression. In addition:
- Recent medical research reveals that inflammation contributes to mental health disorders. One study states that the healthy balance of the gut, as well as inflammation that results from a gut imbalance, likely plays a role in mental health issues.
- Yet more research backs up the claim about inflammation, diet, and gut balance with regards to mental health. The authors of one review note that conditions like autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression are some of the conditions that may be linked to inflammation.
- A five-year study of more than 600 people found that those with higher levels of inflammation in their bodies were more likely to have severe depression.
While we cannot blame one single factor for mental health conditions, these studies provide compelling evidence that what we eat, the health of our gut, and the resulting level of chronic inflammation in our bodies affects how we feel mentally.
Calm inflammation, boost your mood
The evidence supporting inflammation and mental health is strong, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of your control. In fact, there are many changes you can make today to reduce inflammation and start feeling better mentally.
- Focus on restoring health to your gut. Much of the body’s inflammation comes from a gut that’s out of balance. You can get your gut back in balance with the right diet and probiotic supplements.
- Focus on simple, doable ways you can reduce inflammation every day. This can mean skipping that sugary snack, taking a walk instead of surfing the Internet, and managing stress with healthy habits like meditation or deep breathing.
- If you struggle with weight loss or achieving better health, don’t try to make it on your own. Talk with a doctor who can help you achieve your health goals. Dr. Jay Garcia’s medical education combined with real-world experience can provide you with actionable, doable steps to help you work toward a healthier version of you.
A no-cost consultation at Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers can get you started on the path to a better you both physically and mentally. Take the first step by contacting us today!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on February 6, 2019